We woke up in a world cut open, all of the hate and sadness and confusion spilling out. It was easy to tune out Donald Trump, my Facebook feed filled with Hillary support or cynical distrust of the whole apparatus. All the while, he was spewing doctrines of distrust of other people, violence, and backwards thinking – and I wasn’t listening, as hundreds of thousands of folks, even in my own state, gathered behind him saying, “He tells it like it is.”
What does that mean, tells it like it is? That implies a shared reality, a shared way of looking. People all over were surveying their lives, their country, and saying, “Muslims are bad. Women are asking for it. Mexicans are the problem. You don’t deserve health care.” Hearing it back, hearing what “it is” was so powerful and resonant that it mobilized people who frequently don’t vote.
The most heartbreaking part of my night came when I was watching the NBC coverage on YouTube in my bed, and they interviewed a woman and asked her, “Why, as a woman, would you vote for Donald Trump?” and she said, of course, “He tells it like it is. You know what you’re getting.” How horrifying that you would accept the reality that people just like you are assaulted and degraded and that there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well elect someone who puts that out on the table. My stomach plummets every time I think of Hillary Clinton, the most qualified, capable person to ever run for president, and all the women just like her who are overshadowed by unqualified, undignified men because of misogyny (including internalized misogyny), because of hatred and fear.
Waking up at 3 am to the horrific news made me more resolute in my self-care project – and extending this care to the people around us. The government isn’t there to help us. The people have spoken. The government is here to oppress the groups that were already struggling in order to maintain the status quo. What can we do? We must take care of ourselves. We must protect our bodies, our assets, our souls. We must be kind to our neighbors. We must be outspoken. We must not be defeated.
As silly as it seems, let’s do a Thanksgiving Advent today. This one doesn’t come from a hat. Research a way to give back to marginalized groups in your community. This could be getting involved in a political movement like Black Lives Matter, or working at a food pantry, or volunteering at a Planned Parenthood, or going to a community meeting, or giving money to a charity that means something to you. I know I have put my head in the sand for far too long. It’s a bad day in so many ways, but it’s a good day to raise up the people around you, to remind each other that we are important and our rights are important.
Lorna Simpson (b. 1960), Untitled (A lie is not a shelter), 1989, gelatin silver print, 59 x 48 in., National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Billy E. Hodges, TR2008-34